Finally got around to reading Cory Doctorow's Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom, and though I loved it, I wish it were longer. Or, at least, I'd love to see more stories from the same setting or playing with the same themes of the Bitchun Society. I have seen some of these things in stories before, though. So, hey, I haven't posted anything here in a few days - have some babble and book links (feel free to comment and leave some more links):

Of course I love the notion of ubiquitous computing and personal HUD's. I've babbled about that at length for sure. If you want more of that, go check out Vernor Vinge's Fast Times at Fairmont High. Mediated reality with P2P computing woven into clothing and projected across contact lens displays. A little less obtrusive than seisure-inducing in-brain electronics, but just as post-human.

And then there's backup-and-restore and the cure for death. Although in David Brin's Kiln People, things start with disposable doppelgangers, survival of personality after bodily death is promised in the ending. What could change human nature more than transcending mortality?

As for deadheading, check out Vinge's Across Realtime series. In particular, read up on bobbling in Marooned in Realtime. There's also Orson Scott Card's The Worthing Saga. A one-way trip into the far future through geological periods of time seems particularly external to known human experience, especially when combined with immortality.

One thing I've yet to see much in stories or speculations is how society could function in a post-mortality and post-scarcity conditions. I've never been satisfied with the way Star Trek dodges the day-to-day realities of a post-capitalistic Federation of plenty. Walter Jon Williams' Aristoi explores an interesting track with a meritocratic society whose top members have godlike powers matched to godlike creativity and self-possession (not to mention possession by multiple selves).

But so far, Whuffie and its currency in reputation is the best game I've seen yet. Since, even if the problems of mortality and material scarcity are solved, human attention and cooperation will never be gratis. So, how else do you herd the cats when you can neither threaten nor reward them via any physical means? Seems like the blogosphere, gift culture, and open source noosphere brought to reality.

Kinda makes me want to get back to fiction writing meself and finally get out the dozen or so stories I've had bouncing around in my head these past years. Doesn't necessarily mean I'd churn out anything good, but who knows? Maybe after some work and some stumbling I could produce something passable. All those creative writing classes in college and short stories in spiral-bound notebooks from high school have to count for something. I'd even love to squat in the Bitchun Society for a few stories, but that might be a bit presumptuous, even though Mr. Doctorow himself has let on that he's not likely to write more tales from the same Bitchun universe. Better to get some practice in before jamming in someone else's club.


Archived Comments

  • Sorry this is unrelated to what I'm responding to, but... I just noticed you've replaced your RSS file with an English message explaining that it has moved. Would it not make more sense to give an HTTP Moved Permanantly response so that software can automatically make the update? You could even do both so that shoddy software (which doesn't heed the HTTP response) will display the English message. All sensible aggregators should be able to deal with Moved Permanently.
  • Whuffie was easily the best part of that book. It appeals to my social-justice side: pricks lose.
  • Makes me wonder how the US is going to recover all the Whuffie that Shrub's blown on things. :(
  • I've always liked Iain M. Banks' "Culture" series as an imaginative vision of a post-scarity society. Though most of the novels deal with people outside or on the fringes of the Culture, so we get only a partial view of the Culture's post-mortal world. The recent "Look to Windward" would be a good place to start on the series (and an excellent novel in its own right, as well).